If you’re a grey fleet driver or your company runs grey fleet vehicles, you need to be up-to-date with the rules and potential risks involved. Millions of grey fleet motorists are on British roads today, but many employers and employees still aren’t fully aware of what this means if there’s an accident, mileage issue or maintenance query. So, what are grey fleets and why do so many businesses use them?
A grey fleet overview
Essentially, grey fleets describe vehicles not owned by companies but used by their employees during working hours. A grey fleet driver is someone who either: gets behind the wheel of a privately-rented vehicle for work purposes, uses a vehicle purchased through an employee ownership scheme, or simply uses a vehicle for their job that is privately-owned by them (the employee).
Employers are responsible for grey fleet vehicles, which also includes fuel and other motoring costs.
Grey fleet facts
Using grey fleet vehicles and drivers is a trend across the UK. A report commissioned by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) in 2016 (named Getting to grips with Grey Fleet) discovered that employers across the country spend about £5.5 billion annually on grey fleets. According to the Energy Saving Trust, grey fleet drivers cover about 12 billion miles every year in the UK, which causes approximately 3.5 million tonnes of CO2. However, the BVRLA set out to halve grey fleet mileage and costs by the year 2020 with help from employers and policymakers.
What about managing your grey fleet drivers?
Luckily, there are now online systems available — including a handy system from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This enables organisations to log details such as: insurance details, driving licence validity, MOT certifications and road tax validity. It can also alert each driver and line manager of dates when any of these items are up for renewal.
Important legal details
Both employers and employees should have sound legal knowledge around grey fleets, and this issue has been researched by Northgate, a van lease specialist company based in north-east England.
Business owners with grey fleet drivers need know about the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. This is because the act underlines that it’s the requirement of employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees while at work (to a practical and reasonable extent). It also stresses that employers and employees both have a responsibility whenever they are engaging in work-related driving activities to ensure they are never putting others at risk. Even if an employer has company cars for their employees, they have the same responsibility for grey fleet vehicles when carrying out working tasks.
Options if you’re thinking of alternatives to grey fleets
Considering switching to something different to handle your company’s transport needs? There are several ways.
Introducing company cars
To lower your grey fleet number, why not try to reduce your business mileage so that employees can use company cars? This way, business managers get some say over their staff’s cars, which might help alleviate the situation.
But bear in mind, this isn’t necessarily the answer for all businesses. While employees who drive thousands of miles per year would benefit from a company car, boosting your company’s car fleet across the board isn’t necessarily efficient.
What about rental cars?
Another good alternative to grey fleets is renting cars as and when you need them. Most decent firms lease vehicles for anything from an hour to over a month at a time and you can usually get a good selection of vehicles to suit your business. If you go with this option, you can also track and monitor different aspects of vehicle usage which is beneficial as you will be able to allocate employees and costs more efficiently.
Start a new company scheme
Why not speak to your employees about rolling out a company-wide scheme to bring down fleet vehicle numbers, such as salary sacrifices? This way, employees using their own vehicles for work would have the chance to relinquish a part of their salary and receive the non-cash benefit of a new lease vehicle in return.
“By introducing mandatory licence checking and automatically providing business insurance, the schemes ensure that the company and its employees are fully covered,” said David Hosking, the CEO of Tusker, which is a salary sacrifice market leader.